Budget Talks GOP

GOP leaders unveil plan to cut spending

Most Mountain State families live by a simple rule: You can’t spend what you don’t have. Republicans in the state Legislature believe that ought to be the government’s standard, too.

Earlier this year, Gov. Jim Justice proposed a state budget that would spend $4.505 billion during the fiscal year that begins July 1. His estimate of revenue for the year, under the current tax structure, is just $4.055 billion.

That leaves a shortfall of $450 million. Justice proposes eliminating it by increasing taxes.

GOP lawmakers have a better idea. If the state can raise only $4.055 billion without tax increases, then spending should be held to $4.055 billion, they say.

Bravo!

The framework of a budget along those lines was unveiled Monday by GOP leaders. It is a complex, incomplete document.

Details released Monday are quite specific. Among big-ticket items on it is a plan to cut $105.5 million off the governor’s proposal by not funding the Save Our State campaign he proposes. Justice’s SOS plan — which he himself has said could be trimmed down to $35 million for the coming year — is aimed at economic development initiatives.

Other big-dollar items in the Republican proposal include saving $43 million by “smoothing” payments into the Teacher Retirement System and “redirecting” $38.3 million in Workers’ Compensation money.

But the GOP framework details budget balancing plans that total only $277.7 million. That leaves more than $172 million — but the plan there is to insist state agencies rein in their spending to handle the amount.

“Controversial” does not begin to describe the Republican proposal. The next few weeks in the Legislature will be difficult ones, as those with objections to the plan battle it out.

No doubt many, including the governor, will insist the GOP budget recommendation is flawed because it eliminates what Justice views as opportunities to grow the economy.

But the Republicans have put forth a pro-growth plan. By avoiding $450 million in tax increases desired by the governor, it leaves that much money in the pockets of West Virginia families and businesses — to improve the economy as we see fit

COMMENTS